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A nurse attends to Natalie Solomon at the COVID-19 Mass Vaccinatiion Site at Shaw Park, Tobago, on Saturday.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley is assuring Tobagonians that the Government is giving the same level of attention to the island’s COVID-19 situation as Trinidad.

He gave this assurance at the weekly media briefing on Saturday at the Anne Mitchell Gift Auditorium, Scarborough Library, Tobago.

It was not the first time since the first COVID-19 case was recorded in this country in March 2020 that the national health update briefing was held in Tobago.

Dr Rowley said he decided to hold the briefing there so that people can understand the island had medical experts from Trinidad as part of its COVID-19 response team.

Present at the conference from Trinidad virtually and in-person were Minister of Health Dr Terrence Deyalsingh, Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram, Technical Director of Epidemiology Dr Avery Hinds, Principal Medical Officer of Institutions Dr Maryam Abdool-Richards, and Thoracic Medical Director at the Caura Hospital Dr Michelle Trotman.

“These are the team of experts…who are ensuring that the population in Tobago has the same level of care and attention as anywhere else in the nation,” Dr Rowley said.

“The main reason for this (holding the conference in Tobago) is that I have seen some people, in the last few days, identifying Tobago as an area where there was less than professional care being provided.

“Some persons went as far as to say that there were (COVID-related) data hiding in Tobago…I pay personal attention to this part of the country as I do the rest of the country, and therefore it is not likely that such situations can or will develop in Tobago and not attract the attention of the leadership of the country.”

He said Tobago’s COVID-19 response was “not run like a chicken coup.”

On the issue of vaccinations, Rowley said Tobago had its fair share of vaccinations. He stressed that data on vaccination indicated that vaccinated people were better able to deal with the virus.

“I think it’s undisputed so far … that those persons who have been vaccinated have not felt the harsh effects of COVID infections,” Rowley said.

“(They) avoid hospitalisation, the strong symptoms, and of course…99 per cent are not dying from the virus.

“On the other hand, we are seeing in a lot of countries 4th wave arrangements even in those countries that were beginning to think that they had gotten past the virus, had high levels of restrictions.”

“We are seeing that some people have had to get back into restrictions, lockdowns, strict arrangements for the movement of people overflowing hospitals with sick people.”

Tobago’s Health Secretary Tracy Davidson-Celestine, who also attended the briefing, said Tobago’s first drive-through vaccination site, which began on Saturday at Shaw Park, was successful as more than 300 people were vaccinated at the site.

She said the Tobago Regional Health Authority had planned a similar drive-through vaccination site in Tobago East.

“We have been having consistently high COVID-positive cases on the island ranging in the vicinity of 35 or so daily…We have indicated to you…that the only way we can manage and mitigate the spread of this virus is for us to be vaccinated,” Davidson-Celestine said.

She said to increase vaccinations, the Division of Health was asking churches and youth groups for help to get their members vaccinated.